Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My son, the cat (sort of)

The kid sleeping in my lap right now turned nine months old last week. That’s not especially significant, except to realize he’s been outside about as long as he was inside, and life certainly is more interesting in its current state.

In the past few days I’ve come to realize the baby is quite similar to a slow-moving cat. To wit:
  • He responds to his name (and nickname) only at his discretion.
  • He cannot communicate with words, though clearly he is very particular about his likes and dislikes.
  • He crawls over and whines when he wants to be picked up or fed. He will attempt to climb up a human leg in pursuit of these goals.
  • He will not be held against his will.
  • His needs are paramount to those of the people in his life.
  • He disseminates bodily fluids in unfortunate places throughout the house.
  • He is intrigued by nothing so much as running water.
  • His diet includes what appears to be mush from tiny containers.
  • He prefers my bed to his.
  • He rather enjoys looking out the window, and also shiny or dangly things he can slap.
  • He scratches flesh with reckless abandon.
  • His waste is in a container in the bathroom, and the smell is distinct.
  • He likes to eat stuff he finds outside. (This includes sand.)
  • He retains a slight desire to be at least partially nocturnal.
  • He makes a beeline for the things he is supposed to leave alone, including computer cables and potted (fake) plants.
  • He will not pose for photographs.
  • He only wants to be left alone when everyone else wants to play with him and demands the most attention when important things need to be done.
  • He delights in shredding paper, especially toilet and facial tissue.
  • He appears to be aware of his cuteness and is attempting to use it as a defense mechanism.
Sure, it’s not a direct comparison (I’ve yet to hear him purr or hiss, and thankfully he doesn’t shed), but as a former cat owner there are frequent reminders of when I used to share the house with felines. And eventually he’ll grow out of a lot of these tendencies, which in many ways just plain makes me sad, because he is indisputably our last baby.

When I briefly entertained the notion of lobbying for a fifth child (which I’d never verbalize on account of me not being the one to actually grow the human), I realized it was the pinnacle of my penchant for procrastination. If we had another baby, then I could just stay in this part of life. It seems odd, but I’m rather used to dealing with diapers and getting up in the middle of the night to pop my thumb in a kid’s mouth. I have always resisted change, and each new kid allows me to comfortably wear the “father of a baby” mantle, which has served me well for the better part of a decade.

Yet we could add a baby each year and it wouldn’t keep our older kids from growing up. And since eventually I’m going to have to teach the big boys how to drive and navigate the murky social waters of junior high and high school, I suppose it would be helpful if I could count on a few decent nights of sleep somewhere along the line.

Also four boys is a lot. We have filled our house and, to a greater extent, our minivan. I’m incredibly grateful for the gift of each son and hope like heck I’m up to the awesome responsibility of being their dad.

Life is pretty good. I only wish I could respond with sufficient gratitude.

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